SQUAD NEWS: McKellar backs youngsters to fill veteran void in 2020

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

UPDATE: Dan McKellar is confident the Brumbies have developed a structure strong enough to withstand the departure of a host of veterans in 2020.

The Brumbies confirmed their 2020 squad on Monday morning with a host of new faces in the group after many of their longest-serving players moved on.

A host of their most high-profile players have departed the club ahead of the season including Christian Lealiifano, Rory Arnold, David Pocock and Sam Carter, but McKellar said he was confident the Brumbies 

The battle for the starting 10 spot in 2020 will be one of the most significant with Noah Lolesio and Bayley Kuenzle joined by Queensland schoolboy star Reesjan Pasitoa in that department next year.

"I think we've lost some experienced players but we're really comfortable in the boys that we've brought in because they've been in our program for a couple of years now," he said.

"Obviously Christian's the one that most people will talk about ,captain and 10, but the options we've got there in Kuenzle, Lolesio and Pasitoa, those guys, the first two in particular have been around our program for a number of years.

"They know how we play, they know what's expected of them and we've worked hard with them to make sure that they're ready to thrive at this level."

Both Lolesio and Kuenzle were part of the squad last year while Pasitoa will be a fresh face in the group after showing plenty of promise as a schoolboy.

With Lealiifano and Bernard Foley both heading overseas next season, the door will be open for some new talent at flyhalf across the Australian franchises and McKellar said it was a chance for those players to show their potential.

"There's enormous opportunity across the board and that position in particular," he said.

"That's the cycle now, isn't it, after a World Cup? Guys getting towards the back end of their career all look to move on and look for new experiences so it's that time now where there's huge opportunity for a number of players within our squad."

McKellar said he was confident that the younger crop, many of whom have been part of the setup as squad players or academy players, would be able to continue the work the 2019 team began.

"It's not like we're starting from scratch and have to bring in a different style of play or that sort of thing," he said.

"Those boys are really comfortable and we're comfortable with them and we're not going to get to round one and everything's going to click and be the same as it was against the Sharks in the quarter-final or anything like that but we need to just progress and build throughout the season and start better than we have over the last couple of years.

"We don't want to get to round six and be 2-4 or anything like that. It's no good for my blood pressure and certainly not Phil's (CEO Phil Thompson) so we'll sort that out."

While there will be plenty of stalwarts missing in 2020, the Brumbies still have 10 Test-capped players among their squad.

The earlier start to Super Rugby next season means the clock is ticking on building cohesion for every team, though the flipside for Aussie coaches is that the Wallabies will return to training before Christmas with the World Cup wrapping up in October.

Normally, Wallabies are on leave until January, with Spring Tour Tests scheduled as late as the end of November.

In 2019 they will train before Christmas before returning in January for the final three-week lead-in to Super Rugby.

"We'll get them back a little earlier this year which is a good thing but obviously it's an early start as well, time is of the essence," he said.

The Brumbies have also confirmed previously that Nic White would be joining the squad in 2021, after his contract with Exeter finishes.

SQUAD

Brumbies 2020 Super Rugby squad

IN: Harry Lloyd, Sham Vui, Lachlan Lonergan, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Will Miller, Issak Fines, Noah Lolesio, Reesjan Pasitoa, Guy Porter, Solomone Kata

OUT: Vunipola Fifita, Josh Mann-Rea, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Ben Hyne, David Pocock, Matt Lucas, Christian Lealiifano, Wharenui Hawera, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Lausii Taliauli, Chance Peni

Props

Allan Alaalatoa

Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin

Harry Lloyd

Tom Ross

Scott Sio

James Slipper

Shambeckler Vui

Hookers

Folau Fainga’a

Lachlan Lonergan

Connal Mcinerney

Lock

Murray Douglas

Blake Enever

Nick Frost

Caderyn Neville

Darcy Swain

Back Row

Jahrome Brown

Tom Cusack

Lachlan McCaffrey

Will Miller

Pete Samu

Rob Valetini

Scrumhalf

Issak Fines

Ryan Lonergan

Joe Powell

Flyhalf

Bayley Kuenzle

Noah Lolesio

Reesjan Pasitoa

Centre

Len Ikitau

Tevita Kuridrani

Guy Porter

Irae Simone

Tom Wright

Wing/Fullback

Tom Banks

Mack Hansen

Solomone Kata

Andrew Muirhead

Toni Pulu

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